It's worth saying that it took a good half an hour of an hour-long show before big laughs were had. Perhaps it was needed to ease the audience into what was a barely describable level of weirdness. The first half was small gestures and premature audience interaction and shouting hello loudly, making the lack of laughter uncomfortable.
That said, don't stop reading this review on the basis of the words audience participation. It becomes exceptionally funny whether it's you or not. But it was me.
Nowell starts the show floating around the stage cloaked head-to-toe in black and emerges in a gold morph suit and netted boxers on top with PE kit black pumps like a low rent Superman. On stage is a huge suitcase from which he fishes out the props he needs to switch characters; each one as unpredictable as the last.
When things got going and the audience began to roar, Nowell was able to play to it, making laughs expire before he moved on. In a seemingly random set of actions, we got to see a man prance around being completely bizarre with pure and unhinged craziness. The subtlety of things like his facial expressions and the way he stands carry huge amounts of entertainment, so it comes as little surprise when I learn he trained with Philippe Gaulier. All of the physical comedy happens with such few words that when he does decide to speak, it's like using a prop.
It's difficult to quantify the levels of positivity and absurdity without giving some of the show away but I can try to divulge that there's some backstabbing, pollenating, peeing, gibberish, and blind unpredictability.
Actions that come from nowhere progress into sketches that ooze madness and idiocy. Things like stepping out with bee wings leading to forcing me to spank him with a fly swatter and climbing through the audience with a sunflower headdress. The purity of the comedy is endearing – it's basic and innocent and completely abnormal and there's no space for normalcy in this game. We speak about making good use of the stage but that goes out of the window when a performer like Nowell makes good use of the entire room, including the seats.
Less of the tiptoeing around at the start. Full force, high octane lunacy from the off and the show will truly be the adventure it wants to be.
- Luke Nowell: Being Hueman Being is managed by White Sardine Productions and is running at the Theatre Box at The Warren from 5-7 May at 17:30.